Despite living in a “crazy world” filled with uncertainty, wars, rumors of wars, crime, terrorism, tragedies, natural disasters and disappointments, Sister Cristina B. Franco invited BYU–Idaho students to “be of good cheer” and to live without fear.
Speaking in the weekly campus devotional broadcast on Tuesday, March 9, the Primary general leader told students to take comfort in the Lord’s promise found in Doctrine and Covenants 68:6: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.”
As an Argentine-born, native Spanish speaker, Sister Franco said she decided to look up in the English dictionary the topic of her remarks. She learned “to be of good cheer is to be happy. It is that simple! Right?”
She then shared four elements that have helped her find happiness in spite of outward circumstances.
First, ‘understand that we have a Father in Heaven and a Savior, who love us.’
“I can’t think of anything that brings more joy and happiness to our lives than knowing we have a Father in Heaven, who loves us and knows us personally, who created a perfect plan of salvation, also called the plan of happiness, making His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, central to His plan so that we can return to live with Them once again,” Sister Franco said.
The scriptures say when the plan was introduced, Heavenly Father’s sons and daughters “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). “Isn’t that a great reason to be happy?” Sister Franco said.
Second, ‘understand that Heavenly Father gave us commandments to help us be happy and return to Him.’
Referencing the account of the people in 4 Nephi, Sister Franco noted, “All people had been converted unto the Lord; all were extremely happy because they were keeping the commandments.”
The scriptures record there were “no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God” (4 Nephi 1:15–16).
Third, ‘understand the importance of gratitude in our lives.’
Sister Franco listed a few of the things individuals can be grateful for — “families, friends, our Father in Heaven’s goodness in providing us a Savior, the privilege of living on the earth when the fulness of the gospel has been restored, the blessing to make and keep covenants, and the opportunity to partake of the sacrament every Sunday,” she said.
When Sister Franco and her husband were serving as the president and companion of the Argentina Resistencia Mission, her husband sent missionaries to check out an area that had been closed for more than seven years. The missionaries were surprised to find of a group of 120 to 125, who had been meeting every Sunday. They did not have the authority to bless and pass the sacrament so they gathered under a tree to read the Book of Mormon and the Bible.
As mission president, her husband soon organized the group to hold sacrament services and provided them with hymnbooks, copies of the Book of Mormon and other books.
“Their joy cannot be described; tears ran down their faces during that very sacred gathering,” Sister Franco recalled.
She then asked listeners, “Aren’t we so thankful for the tremendous opportunity we have each week to partake of the sacrament and for the blessing of the Lord’s infinite Atonement in our lives?”
Fourth, ‘understand that service brings joy to our lives.‘
The Savior is the ultimate example of service, Sister Franco said and quoted President Henry B. Eyring who said, “When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him.”
Opportunities for service are limitless, she continued. “Kind words and deeds can lift burdens and cheer up hearts. Sharing the gospel and helping our ancestors on the other side of the veil through family history work are great services that brings joy not only to the recipients but also to us.”
Trials and struggles will come and go, she said, but as individuals learn from those challenges, they can gain wisdom and strength from their faith in Jesus Christ. “It is so important that we keep our focus on our ultimate goal, that we get on and stay on the covenant path that leads us back to our Heavenly Father.”
In conclusion, Sister Franco declared that the spirit of the gospel is optimistic. “I pray the struggles and trials of life will not obscure your vision and goals to live righteously that you may return to our Heavenly Father. I pray you will all find happiness no matter your circumstances,” she said.